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A champion who inspired others

Patricia Herzog: July 27, 1922 to Oct. 1, 2010

Lawyer who changed alimony payments will be remembered for her no-holds-barred approach to life, family says.

October 05, 2010|By Sarah Peters, sarah.peters@latimes.com
  • Patricia Herzog
Patricia Herzog (Daily Pilot )

Editor's note: This adds Kiernan Lambeth's last name and changes contentiously to conscientiously.

Patricia Herzog, a Corona del Mar lawyer who provided counsel in a landmark alimony case, has died. She was 88.

Herzog succumbed to natural causes Friday at her CdM home, family members said.

On Tuesday, friends and family remembered her as "strong-willed and compassionate," and praised the career of one of the first female attorneys accepted to the Orange County Bar.

Best known for her counsel in the 1982 divorce case Sullivan v. Sullivan, Herzog argued that anyone who supports a spouse through medical or law school has a right to share in the earnings if the couple divorce.

While the court deliberated — and Herzog eventually won — the state Legislature enacted the Sullivan law, which entitles the supporting spouse to his or her half of the education tuition contribution, plus interest.

Herzog was in her 60s at the time, but continued practicing law and providing free legal advice well into her 70s as the first attorney of the Legal Aid Society in Santa Ana, said Nancy Bunn, a longtime friend and fellow attorney.

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"Pat certainly did champion the rights of women, but she also championed anyone who wasn't getting their fair shake," Bunn said. "She was an independent thinker and not the kind of person to sit idly around when she saw an injustice."

Paul Shapiro, her stepchild, worked with Herzog early on in his own law career at the Corona del Mar private practice she founded in 1960.

"[Herzog] was a great inspiration to me about what it means to practice law conscientiously and with the goal of helping the most vulnerable members of our society," Paul Shapiro said. "I just continue to be inspired by what she did and why she did it. Everything she did in law was a reflection of her commitment of law as a force for the improvement of society and betterment of its people."

After being named Attorney of the Year in 1994 by the Orange County Woman Lawyers Assn., Herzog was interviewed by the Los Angeles Times.

"I've been outside the Establishment, you could say anti-establishment, all my life," she told the newspaper, which oversees the Daily Pilot. "To me, it's an interesting and stimulating place to be."

Later, Reid Shapiro, Herzog's youngest son, when asked about the comment, said his mother found many causes of both politically liberal and conservative natures to take up the gauntlet and become a champion for change.

However, as passionate a defender of civil and minority rights as she was, Reid, who works for The Times on the business side, said friends and family will remember her for her bold, no-holds-barred approach to life.

She was an avid birdwatcher, worldwide traveler, a vocal Lakers' fan and reigning champion pingpong player on the family's backyard table, Reid said.

He also remembers once, while on a family vacation camping in Yellowstone National Park, waking up to witness Herzog chase off a bear while her husband and family slept inside their tent.

"She was not a person to back down from anyone or anything," Reid said.

Herzog is survived by: children Charlie Herzog, Chris Herzog and Reid Shapiro; stepchildren Lynn Shapiro and Paul Shapiro; grandchildren Siri Herzog, Dana Shapiro and Alex Shapiro; and stepgrandchild Kiernan Lambeth.

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